City of Denver Puts Brakes on Park Hill Golf Club Purchase

Current lease agreement puts 86-year-old Park Hill’s future in limbo.

Park Hill Golf Club
Park Hill Golf Club


The drama surrounding another one of Denver’s historic courses continues.

With City Park Golf Course shuttered for at least 18 months as it undergoes a controversial overhaul to accommodate stormwater detention, Park Hill Golf Club could close for good at the end of next year as part of the same stormwater mitigation system.

The course, which opened at 35th and Colorado in 1931, enjoys a storied history.

Every July between 1936 and 1957, nationally ranked amateurs and professionals (and celebrities such as Bob Hope) played in the prestigious, week-long Park Hill Invitational.

Park Hill also served as the home course of Babe Lind and Babe Didrikson Zaharias, members of the first class of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame. In 1947, Lind became the first Coloradan to compete in the Masters, and Zaharias, arguably the top woman athlete of the 20th Century, won three U.S. Women’s Opens.

Currently, Park Hill also houses the Greater Golfer Development Center, where co-owner and five-time Colorado Dow Finsterwald PGA Player of the Year Geoff Keffer teaches and practices. The facility also hosted July’s World Long Drive Mile High Showdown.

Park Hill Golf Club

The 155 acres on which the course sits is owned by the Clayton Family Trust and managed by Clayton Early Learning. Clayton has relied mainly on course revenue—currently generated through an operator agreement with Dallas-based Arcis Golf—to fulfill its mission of providing early education to thousands of low-income children in northeast Denver.

But Clayton needs $1 million annually to operate and Arcis pays $700,000 to lease the course. So with the agreement expiring at the end of 2018 and Arcis seemingly losing money on the operation, Clayton struck a $20.5 million deal to sell it to the City of Denver on September 21.

Or so everyone thought.

Prior to the City Council voting on the purchase, on November 17, the city suspended its plan when it discovered that Arcis had options for two five-year lease extensions and a right of first refusal to purchase the land—a decision the company had until July of 2018 to make.

According to a story in The Denver Post, Clayton Early Learning’s president and CEO Charlotte Brantley went into negotiations with the city believing that Arcis did not intend to renew its lease past 2018. But in the last two weeks, she says she learned “they want to take the time they have under the lease to consider that decision…So they’re not ready to give us an answer right now.”

Park Hill Golf Club

The city, which intends to use at least 25 of the course’s acreage as part of the same Platte to Park Hill: Stormwater Systems  program that justified the closure of City Park Golf Course, has tabled the purchase for the foreseeable future and may consider other measures of acquiring the parcel.